These 10 activities for toddlers will not only capture their attention, it’ll help them developmentally too.
Keeping your toddler busy can be very challenging to say the least. Their attention spans are short, they are constantly being distracted and there are also many activities they are not quite ready for.
There are always new things your toddler wants to try and that’s exactly why we’ve created this list of fun activity ideas.
Toddler play is highly educational
The beauty of the toddler years is that they are a prime time for learning. Your little one’s mind is like a sponge—thirsty to see, smell, taste and touch anything new or interesting. You can take this as a wonderful opportunity to direct the abundant energy your child has and turn it into a learning time full of fun and adventure.
It may look like your toddler is simply just playing, but that’s how they learn. Picking up toys, holding, carrying, throwing a ball, rolling in the grass, all of these teach them both gross and fine motor skills, which we adults take for granted. Play is also where creativity is nurtured and ideas grow.
Research tells us that learning through play is an important strategy to promote engagement, inclusion and the development of holistic skills. The great thing is that playing comes naturally to children and most of the time you just need to send them in the right direction and they’ll start. Keep in mind that toddlers do require active supervision at all times, which means you must be able to see and hear them.
And if you haven’t already noticed, anything you’re doing, eating or working on, your tiny tot wants to try. This is how they learn—by exploring and investigating. They may not yet be able to talk and use words but they are communicating in other ways.
Your toddler wants to be with you because they want to feel your love, acceptance and protection, but also because they learn by watching and listening to you. What a mind-blowing responsibility and blessing all wrapped into one!
10 activities for toddlers to try at home
Here are some great and easy toddler activities to promote learning, decrease screen time and ultimately, build important life skills. Remember, a busy toddler is a happy one.
1. Sensory bins
Sensory bins are one of the best activities for toddlers to keep them active while having loads of fun. The basic idea is to have a storage bin filled up with something soft and nontoxic (e.g. jelly, soaked chia seeds, cooked tapioca, water, dried rice, dried beans/peas, leaves or just plain old soil). Scatter or bury toys throughout and watch their little hands search for them.
This sensory play activity helps increase curiosity, problem-solving and is a perfect way to foster creativity. Sensory activities are also especially helpful for children who may have disabilities or sensory integration issues.
2. Bubble foam
Source: Busy Toddler
Bubble foam is a great way to teach kids lots of skills. You can show your toddler how to clean their toy cars, dolly clothes and miniature dinnerware, or as a game of hide-and-seek by hiding the toys under the foam.
It is made using very simple household ingredients and makes a great rainy day indoor activity. Shaving cream is another option instead of bubble foam, but is often expensive and can have questionable ingredients.
3. Play dough anatomy
Here is a good activity for educational purposes and is also suitable if older kids are wanting to get in on the fun. Make up a large batch of play dough, creating a few different colour options with some food colouring. Then on a sheet of construction paper or cardboard, draw the outline of a body. Assist your child in filling in the body with the play dough.
You can teach some simple words like “arms”, “ears”, “eyes” or “toes”. Their little fingers will love squishing the play dough and they’ll probably want a taste test. If you have other young children you can involve them too and teach more advanced lessons on anatomy.
Fun activities for toddlers often require few resources. Ball-in-the-hole is an activity that provides fine motor practice with few supplies necessary. You will need large plastic balls or pom poms (if age appropriate) and a big cardboard box.
Cut out some holes matching the size of the balls you’re using. Then let your child have fun pushing balls through the holes. You can make it more challenging by colour-coding the holes to make it a colour-matching activity.
5. Scooping balls
This is another ball activity that will help teach fine and gross motor skills such as balance, coordination, griping and holding. Have a big pot or storage container filled with large plastic balls. Provide your toddler with tools such as soup ladles or sieves for them to pick up the balls with and transfer to another pot. Ideally, have the containers a little distance from each other so it involves some walking and balancing.
6. Making faces
Facial expressions hold a lot of meaning for all of us and especially for children. A lot is communicated to them through our facial expressions and this activity will help deepen the connection between facial expressions and emotions. Using cardboard, create the outline of a face. Then create different options of expressions such as a smile, frown or yawn and let your child experiment with making combinations on the face.
7. Tape town
Source: A Girl and a Glue Gun
Indoor activities are important when the weather is cold or rainy to keep your little one from getting cabin fever. This is one of the best ideas for keeping a toddler busy for at least an hour. Using painter’s tape, you can let your imagination run wild creating roads, streets, runways and anything else you can think of. Then let your toddler collect their toys and fill in the blanks.
8. Colour match
Source: The Imagination Tree
There are many different variations to this activity. The main idea is to teach your child how to identify colours and match them. You can use simple materials such as cotton balls, a little warm water and food colouring, coloured balls or coloured paper. The fun things you can do with colour-matching games are endless.
9. Rock painting
Most young kids love being outdoors and picking up things, especially rocks. This activity harnesses that curiosity and turns it into art.
Take your toddler outdoors for a rock-collecting walk. Find some suitable rocks that are large enough to not be a choking hazard or alternatively, you can buy some from Bunnings or a $2 shop. Then get your paints and paintbrushes and start creating some awesome rock art.
This one often turns into messy play, so use protective measures to avoid stains. If you have children in an older age group, this activity is a great way to get them involved.
10. Party time
Most toddlers enjoy role-playing with food, pretending they are chefs mixing and stirring up a tasty delight. Plan a party with your toddler for all their favourite stuffed toys. The “cooking” aspect is a great opportunity to teach so many valuable science, language and math skills. There are also many ways you could incorporate water play within the cooking aspect to teach lessons about washing hands and food.
Get your toddler to “cook” dinner, set the table and invite all their guests to come over. You can teach important social skills such as sharing, letting others go first, serving and helping.
Simple is best with activities for toddlers
Toddler activities are great because they often don’t require a lot of resources or work, and as you can see, a few simple materials can make for happy toddler playtime. Simple activities are budget-friendly, helping you to save money for other important things, but also still highly developmental for your growing child. We would love to hear what your toddler’s favourite activities are right now.
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